I planned to write a blog post titled “Why Scientology makes you stupid”, but then one of the contributors on my blog beat me to it. I am honored to be blessed with many very intelligent people commenting here – it makes my job real easy. I was planning to write the blog post and release it today, but Alanzo did a better job at it than I would have done. While I planned to center my post on Scientology, Al broadened the scope to ideologies or belief systems in general:
A “belief system” is a cognitive structure, a way to see the world where your moral choices, your attitudes, and your feelings, are all pre-wired and structured ahead of time for you.
Here’s a made-up example of a belief system I will create for you as an example: “Reaganism”.
The Axioms of “Reaganism”:
- The government destroys everything it touches. Any time the government gets involved, whatever activity was supposed to happen that was useful becomes corrupted, over-priced and useless after the government gets done with it.
- Private enterprise can always do a better job of anything than the government can. The attempt to turn a profit always makes an activity more efficient and productive for everyone.
- Therefore, government should be run by businesses because businesses can always do a better job at anything than the government can.
So when you adopt Reaganism as your belief system and become a Reaganologist, you look out onto the infinitely big, wide world that actually exists out there, and you have the pre-wiring and the cognitive structures of Reaganism interpret and categorize the infinity of all you see into simple little chunks for you.
Government run road projects are filled with people who just stand around all day and never get any work done. Even though you are driving on a road ( a road built by a government run road project) you never notice that. You sneer and become resentful at all these lazy bums working on this road. Your belief structure has filtered out some things that do not conform to it and accepted others that do conform to it, and given you attitudes and emotions to feel per its dictates.
The Titans of Industry are heros to you, because they embody all the values that you have adopted as a Reaganologist, You swell with pride every time you see a CEO of Goldmann Sachs on TV and you can’t believe that any government bureaucrat at the SEC would ever question his business practices. Government oversight is criminal in your mind, and suppressive to the upstats in society.
As a Reaganologist, you see the world in the way that Reaganism dictates.
The advantage of a belief system, or an ideology, is that it takes the infinite world around you and breaks it up into bite-size chunks, with all of it pre-understood ahead of time. It makes things simpler.
This, once you have adopted a belief system, is also its disadvantage. You don’t see the world as it is any more. You see it only as your ideology dictates that you see it.
No ideology can match the infinity of life, or the infinity of you. The stronger you hold on to an ideology, the smaller, and more fixed, you become.
As more and more of the infinities of life hit you that do not fit into your ideological helmet, the more tightly you pull it down onto your self. Until at last, you become fixed and pinheaded.
This is the problem with belief systems.